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#2305259 - 07/22/14 09:05 AM Adjusting Sound During Restringing
BillJZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 20
I am not a tech, but am looking at older pianos and considering restringing as part of the process. I often find pianos that I like the tone in one section, but find it to be inconsistent from bass to tenor to treble.

I play guitar, and I know adjusting the guage and type of string can have dramatic effects on the sound of an acoustic guitar. For example, if I put a larger diameter string, in general I will get a fuller, often warmer tone, more harmonics, and longer sustain, especially in the bass. It will also affect the action of the strings.....I will have to pluck harder to get a given volume, making the guiatar harder to play loud but easier to play softly.

Can the same thing be done with pianos? It seems that this would take some experience and skill, and perhaps even a computer to do computations. How can I be sure I chooose someone who knows how to alter sound to acheive a desired effect or just maintain the present sound of the piano?
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#2305271 - 07/22/14 09:46 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
What you are talking about is being done everyday by a number of rebuilders. It's called rescaling. String diameters and speaking lengths, wrap diameters, waste lengths, etc. etc. are entered into scaling programs or spreadsheets. Things like inharmonicity, loudness, impedence, breaking percentage, and a multitude of other factors are calculated for the orginal scale. Then a new scale is created balancing all the factors, and blending the registers as best possible.

Be aware that the string scale is only one factor. Inconsistencies as you describe are also related to soundboard design and health. Hammers and voicing also influence the outcome. And how well these factors marry to one another are part of the picture.

If you are buying a used piano, you would be advised to engage the services of a piano technician before you purchase.

Will Truitt
_________________________
fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

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#2305272 - 07/22/14 09:56 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Inconsistency between registers is one of the many stupidities of over-stringing. Other than marketing (i.e., larger piano in a smaller case), I have yet to recognise any significant benefit of such a design. Mostly, it causes headaches and problems. Because of this change in bridge location in relation to the soundboard, you will always have a change in sound quality.

Pianos are already pretty much pushed to the max, in terms of tension and breaking points. If you wanted to explore the more colourful side and less projection, there are other options in terms of wire and overall scale tension used.

Just ask the rebuilder what they think they have the ability to control and what they think they can do. Usually, it is pretty common to take what is already there and refine it. If they have very specific objectives, however, you'll notice the difference.
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305288 - 07/22/14 10:52 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21919
Loc: Oakland
I know of three flat-strung grands made in the past century. All of them are rare, and I have only seen one in person. I do not think it is a panacea.

The problem that many pianos have in the bass to tenor transition is that the tenor strings are severely foreshortened, resulting in very low tension on those strings. Raising the gauge helps, but eventually the stiffness of the wire is a problem.

Modern designers, like Del, are scaling pianos with more overwound strings, which is the best way to handle it.
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#2305313 - 07/22/14 11:27 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2411
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
The break between the overstrung and long bridge is the usual area that wire changes can bring improvement to a piano scale. Also the break between wound bi-chords and single wound string notes can be improved. The recent developments of Pure Sound stainless wire and Paulello soft annealed high-carbon steel wire offer many tools to improve the break area.

Much of the poor tone quality that we notice in these areas are the result of longitudinal modes. These new wire types carry less L-mode at a somewhat lower frequency than fully modern high-carbon wire.

These new wires also offer the ability to have more tri-chord and bi-chord strung unisons lower in the compass which helps make the tone more dynamic, warm and colorful. Having multiple string unisons is very important to true piano tone because of the mutual coupling between unison strings.

These new scaling principles are called "Hybrid Wire Scales". Not everyone who has recent scaling experience is adept at them yet. The protocols are in the process of being learned by many who have an interest in this skill.
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#2305321 - 07/22/14 11:39 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
Scaling the piano and the transitions with multiple types of wire gauged by breaking percentage furthers the rescaler's ability to "break the break", along with or instead of adding wound tenor strings. Stephen Paulello and Pure Sound make this kind of wire.

A well scaled piano can be designed or redesigned so as to make the transition between bass and tenor seamless on an overstrung piano. It takes skill,knowledge, and attention to detail to achieve this.

Most pianos are NOT pushed to the max in terms of tension and breaking points. Bad scaling can create problem areas where such conditions exist. Indeed, the low tenor section of most pianos would benefit tonally from wire at higher breaking percentages than is there originally. Using wire that has a lower breaking point will raise the breaking percentage (I hope that makes sense to you). You can change the wire type without the necessity of increasing the thickness of the wire. The tensions remain the same but the breaking percentage increases to a point that is more tonally palatable.

Some pianos will still require the use of wound strings in the tenor, nonetheless.

Will Truitt
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fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

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#2305343 - 07/22/14 12:31 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
The OP is thinking in terms of their experience with guitar. With instruments like that, one can go up or down with string tension to get different results. That experience doesn't directly apply to the piano. In those terms, the string tension on piano is already pretty maxed out--it doesn't mean the the entire scale design is already at maximum tension, but increasing the overall string tension, more than what it already is, isn't going to have the similar effect as the guitar.

BDB, I've seen/played/worked on hundreds straight strung pianos; they are not as rare as your experiences [in your part of the world]. A panacea has nothing to do with the statements that I made. Pianos were once built that way for a reason and then later changed for other/marketing reasons--which have nothing to do with the quality of musical sound. Sure, you can get a long piano in a shorter case, but who cares: just build the case bigger to properly suit the scale design in question. The extra cost to build a slightly longer piano is almost nothing. Want to guess the difference in production cost between a 5' and a 9' piano?!? Maybe for a 5' piano it is cool--where space is apparently a concern--but for a concert instrument, what, exactly, is the benefit of over-stringing?
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305398 - 07/22/14 01:48 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
A443, what EXACTLY are you saying that "the string tension on a piano is already pretty maxed out". That is not clear. What is your frame of reference?

One thing needs to be made clear here. In traditional scaling with one wire type, tension and breaking percentage go hand in hand - you can have any color you want as long as it is black. With hybrid scaling you can have up to 5 different wire types. You can have a string of a given speaking length, gauge, and pitch, for which you can quantify the tension, breaking percentage, inharmonicity, and other things. For each of the 5 wire types there is a different breaking percentage, yet the other values remain the same, while the piano improves tonally.

I think that we hear breaking percentage far more than we hear tension - scaling with the Paulello wire types has shown that to be true to me.

You can change the sound of a piano by raising or lowering the tension. Whether that is a wise choice or results in a more musical result is another matter.

Will
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fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

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#2305421 - 07/22/14 02:18 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
BillJZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 20
WOW, lots of info here. Much over my head. I'm gathering that it's risky to try to get a lot change in sound due to a string change.

My reason for asking is I'm typically finding 20 to 50 year old pianos that I love the tone of most of the piano, but the last 8-12 treble strings sound really thin and metallic with little harmonics or the the last 8 or 12 strings sound dead with less volume and a weak fundamental tone compared to the rest of the piano. On a guitar we may use a slightly larger gauge string for the unwound strings to remedy a thin or metallic sound or use a different type of string. Can the same effect be achieved, that is making a minor adjustment in string choice, to help a piano sound more consistent?
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#2305444 - 07/22/14 03:02 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Originally Posted By: BillJZ
My reason for asking is I'm typically finding 20 to 50 year old pianos that I love the tone of most of the piano, but the last 8-12 treble strings sound really thin and metallic with little harmonics or the the last 8 or 12 strings sound dead with less volume and a weak fundamental tone compared to the rest of the piano. On a guitar we may use a slightly larger gauge string for the unwound strings to remedy a thin or metallic sound or use a different type of string. Can the same effect be achieved, that is making a minor adjustment in string choice, to help a piano sound more consistent?
WilliamTruitt, the quote from the OP is my frame of reference, as stated above. Raising the overall tension on the piano, unlike the guitar, will not achieve the same results. Hence my comment that the overall string tension on piano is already pretty much maxed out, [comparatively speaking].

BillJZ, piano wire that is 20-50 years needs to be replaced. After about 7 years, it is already about time to change things up if the musical standards are high. The older the string, the more falseness creeps into the overall sound.

There are other strings that piano rebuilders can use (e.g., the Paulello wire as stated above), but these are not used in the same way that a guitarist thinks about string differences--modern day plain wire is steel, with different physical properties that apply to scaling issues that WilliamTruitt has alluded to.

BillJZ, most of the issues you seem to describe, don't sound like scaling issues, per se, but instead: hammer/voicing issues.
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305485 - 07/22/14 03:50 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: A454.7]
SMHaley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 860
Loc: Seattle
Originally Posted By: A443
...piano wire that is 20-50 years needs to be replaced. After about 7 years, it is already about time to change things up if the musical standards are high. The older the string, the more falseness creeps into the overall sound.


Are you talking just the plain wire or are you also including wound strings?

Originally Posted By: A443

BillJZ, most of the issues you seem to describe, don't sound like scaling issues, per se, but instead: hammer/voicing issues.


I think you're right, now that additional information has been added.
_________________________
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#2305488 - 07/22/14 03:52 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: A454.7]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21919
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: A443
BDB, I've seen/played/worked on hundreds straight strung pianos; they are not as rare as your experiences [in your part of the world]. A panacea has nothing to do with the statements that I made. Pianos were once built that way for a reason and then later changed for other/marketing reasons--which have nothing to do with the quality of musical sound. Sure, you can get a long piano in a shorter case, but who cares: just build the case bigger to properly suit the scale design in question. The extra cost to build a slightly longer piano is almost nothing. Want to guess the difference in production cost between a 5' and a 9' piano?!? Maybe for a 5' piano it is cool--where space is apparently a concern--but for a concert instrument, what, exactly, is the benefit of over-stringing?


I am sure that in your travels around the world by horse and buggy, you have seen lots of flat-strung pianos. I said that I knew of three manufacturers who made grand pianos that way in the past 100 years. (Actually, two companies, since one of them made one model in one factory and another, different one in a second with different names.) None of them are in business any longer. I think that puts the onus on you to prove that flat-strung pianos are superior to what every manufacturer in the world has put their money on.
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#2305509 - 07/22/14 04:21 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BDB]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Originally Posted By: BDB
I am sure that in your travels around the world by horse and buggy, you have seen lots of flat-strung pianos.
My generation uses airplanes to travel from city to city.

Originally Posted By: BDB
None of them are in business any longer. I think that puts the onus on you to prove that flat-strung pianos are superior to what every manufacturer in the world has put their money on.
You failed to take note of my previous statement's details: over-stringing is done for marketing reasons, hence the reason manufacturers would put their money there. Since you interjected with your statement that the way pianos were originally constructed is not a panacea, then the onus is now on you to detail why you think over-stringing is somehow acoustically beneficial! Why do you think that is so? Can you describe ANY significant acoustical benefits for over-stringing? Perhaps some experience with the historical pianos and how they developed over time would help you put this issue into perspective.

I can recommend a few keyboard museums that you could travel to, but alas a horse and buggy will not get you there--you will have to leave the country and travel with airplanes. help The upside: you'll know better next time around.
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305511 - 07/22/14 04:27 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
It seems to me that the discussion of flat strung pianos is essentially an academic discussion for others that distracts from the task at hand - BillJZ is looking for a used piano. The likelihood of him coming upon a flat strung piano that is less than 130 years old is slim to none. Don't get me wrong - I find them fascinating and would like to see the design revisited through modern eyes and knowledge, but the manufacturers are not biting.

BillJZ, the last octave, and especially the last half octave, is the most challenging part of any piano. It is a rare bird from any manufacturer to have much olume up there, much less any kind of sustain. I think most any piano out there new or used will disappoint you by way of comparison to your guitar.

It can be scaling issues most definitely. Strike point issues, voicing issues, regulation, hammer weight, etc......

Will
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#2305570 - 07/22/14 07:16 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 2089
Loc: Suffolk, England
BillJZ, have you looked at newer pianos as benchmarks for comparison?

As an aside Stephen Paulello is marketing straight strung pianos.
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Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
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#2305578 - 07/22/14 07:30 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
If by academic, you mean to say that straight-strung pianos are only of theoretical interest, then perhaps you've entirely missed the point: by 'design,' an over-strung piano will always have an acoustic difference at the break.

While many of us can greatly improve the negative aspects of many manufacturer's scale designs and the transitions near the break, we can not overcome the design limitations of that system--we have to deal with it! If the break is off-putting to the OP, then that is worthy of noting now (i.e., it will get better, but a break will always be there by design)!!! smokin cursing

Whether or not manufacturers are biting is irrelevant. If no one talks about the issue, then there won't be any reason for companies to enact change. Competing salespeople would point to the change as a smaller piano in a bigger case; sales and marketing are not my concern: my objectives are increasing the overall quality and playability of the piano. Over-strung pianos don't serve that purpose. tired yawn

In fact, there would be many advancements/improvements if we simply went straight back (e.g., there is no reason for the bass bridge to be that tall/massive/stiff, regulation and hammer alignment would be much easier and more precise, better tonal consistency between registers, etc.). There are many issues that could be discussed; limiting discussion is not a viable way to move forward through the muck.
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305581 - 07/22/14 07:31 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: Withindale]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21919
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Withindale
As an aside Stephen Paulello is marketing straight strung pianos.


Maybe. There was a date that has past, but no indication of whether they are available or not.

In any case, back to the original post, there are a variety of reasons why a piano would not be consistent from one part of the range to another. Some of them are due to the design. Some of them are part of the setup. Some of them are due to the condition of the piano. Some of them are due to the age of the strings, at least in older pianos. Unless you have enough experience to determine what is causing it, you cannot assume that one solution will be the correct one.
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#2305591 - 07/22/14 07:53 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BDB]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Originally Posted By: BDB
Maybe. There was a date that has past, but no indication of whether they are available or not.
Perhaps, BDB, you should contact Stephen Paulello to find out what the advantages straight-strung piano designs might be--if there are any benefits to over-stringing, at all, that might be a good place for you to look for further information/experience/guidance. thumb cursing
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305607 - 07/22/14 08:14 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21919
Loc: Oakland
I read what he said, which apparently you did not. Nor did you get the implication of his desire to make models both ways. I knew exactly what he was talking about. Do you?
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Semipro Tech

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#2305620 - 07/22/14 09:03 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
Withandale, I've been aware for some time that Stephen Paulello is building a straight strung concert grand. I'm not aware that he has completed his prototype. I would love to see and hear it when it is done. Has he made it available yet?

Arno Patin is building a straight strung concert grand in his workshop in Livonia, Michigan. I know the plate has been cast, the rim has been bent. Not sure where he is at from there. He's the domestic source for Paulello wire. Arno's take on a modern straight strung grand is quite interesting, I have seen some of the drawings.

Del Fandrich has expressed the desire to build a smaller straight strung concert grand amongst his many projects.

A443, you should read more carefully before you start shooting from the hip. Nowhere did I say that straight strung pianos were only of theoretical or academic interest. I was trying to make the point that, since the likelihood that BillJZ would find a straight strung instrument youthful enough to consider for purchase was vanishingly small, in that context the discussion was academic.

My interest in straight strung pianos is there, and I would love to see them made. As for as large scale manufacture of these instruments, perhaps someone like Del can upset the applecart enough to shake things up. But I think even that is unlikely. You are tilting at windmills, A443. And I think you are overstating the problems at the bass tenor break. They are solvable and the break can be made invisible.

Will
_________________________
fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

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#2305638 - 07/22/14 09:29 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: WilliamTruitt]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Originally Posted By: WilliamTruitt
And I think you are overstating the problems at the bass tenor break. They are solvable and the break can be made invisible.
cry ha That is absolutely preposterous! There is a tonal shift that is due to the bridge's location on the soundboard in relation to the rim. <----that, you will never make invisible through string scaling. You might be able to distort the tonal break by throwing in some wound string in your tenor scale design, but you are simply putting lipstick on that pig!!!

It is not so dissimilar from a manufacturer recommending to voice the hammers down in the capo section (i.e., and rob the piano of power in the most important section of the piano), when the real problem is the shape of the capo itself. sleep
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305644 - 07/22/14 09:41 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: WilliamTruitt]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1577
Loc: Manywheres
Originally Posted By: WilliamTruitt
A443, you should read more carefully before you start shooting from the hip. Nowhere did I say that straight strung pianos were only of theoretical or academic interest. I was trying to make the point that, since the likelihood that BillJZ would find a straight strung instrument youthful enough to consider for purchase was vanishingly small, in that context the discussion was academic.
I will always hear the sound of a overstrung bass bridge because of its dramatically different location on the board. <-----that makes the issue not "academic/theoretical" in nature. It actually has an implication on what the OP could potentially be hearing as a difference--I hear it clearly, and no: it is not something that will be fixed through a restringing of the piano! No matter how cleaver the stringer thinks they might be.

It may not apply specifically to this situation/OP, but it is certainly something that someone with questions like that might want to consider in terms on understanding what can an cannot be fix/changed easily. cool yippie


Edited by A443 (07/22/14 09:47 PM)
_________________________
Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

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#2305647 - 07/22/14 09:50 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5326
Loc: Olympia, Washington
This is a topic on which I've written quite a lot over the years. As with everything about piano design there are no easy and absolute answers here. Everything is a compromise. Everything.

But it does stray rather far afield of the original post.

Perhaps a new topic is in order.

ddf
_________________________
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(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#2305650 - 07/22/14 09:59 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: Withindale]
BillJZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 20
Originally Posted By: Withindale
BillJZ, have you looked at newer pianos as benchmarks for comparison?

As an aside Stephen Paulello is marketing straight strung pianos.



Yes I have. I am not experienced at all with pianos but have been playing music all my life. My kids are showing and interest in piano. We have a budget of 8K max and are looking for an upright.

Since I will probably play the piano myself and will have to listen to my kids play, I want something I find pleasing to listen to. While I have found the new Pacific Rim pianos to be very consistent in tone and touch across the piano in most cases, they all sound really bright to me. The dealers tell me they just need to be voiced, but I don't know.

My wife wants it to be a nice piece of furniture. Not black, but a nice real walnut or mahogany veneer. The Pacific Rim pianos have a Wal-mart feel and look about them. The furniture styling of even the furniture styled pianos says "grandma" to me when I look at them. Even the nicer furniture style ones can't hold a candle as furniture to a USA made Baldwin, Everett, or Sohmer of yesteryear. I realize tastes are different and others may feel differently.

So this has me looking at 1940s to 1990s studios and small uprights as these are well within my budget, have the tone I like, and the styling my wife likes. I have found many pianos that have the sound I want in the tenor section but have problems in the bass and/or treble sections, or have action problems, and sometimes both. Sometimes they sound like three different pianos. I am considering a partial rebuild (refinishing, restringing, new hammers, and action refurbishment could all potentially be in my budget). I'm just trying to find the most judicious way to proceed.
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#2305657 - 07/22/14 10:22 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 138
Loc: New Hampshire
A443, I see no value in continuing a conversation that has no possibility of going anywhere meaningful.

Will
_________________________
fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

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#2305664 - 07/22/14 10:40 PM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2411
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Billjz,
Most low bass portions of vertical pianos can be greatly improved by using some of the hybrid wire types for core wire and by loading them to a high enough break point. The art is in choosing core type and sizes.

The highest notes can greatly benefit from reducing the mass of the hammers by some 20% or more without reducing the thickness of the felt where it strikes.

I have done some high performance vertical pianos over the years. It costs much more than you can sell the piano for-but there are many possibilities for improvement if one begins with a well made design.

The action can be made very responsive by using a tapered carbon fiber hammer shank and very narrow hammers combined with a small counterweigh applied to the catcher on the hammer butt. This dramatically improves the center of gravity of the hammer assembly so there is a decent amount of gravity return acting upon the hammer. Grands have great gravity return and this is why the play so well.

What you are asking about can be done by a few technicians-but be prepared to pay for it.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2305773 - 07/23/14 07:08 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: WilliamTruitt]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: WilliamTruitt
What you are talking about is being done everyday by a number of rebuilders. It's called rescaling. String diameters and speaking lengths, wrap diameters, waste lengths, etc. etc. are entered into scaling programs or spreadsheets. Things like inharmonicity, loudness, impedence, breaking percentage, and a multitude of other factors are calculated for the orginal scale. Then a new scale is created balancing all the factors, and blending the registers as best possible.

Be aware that the string scale is only one factor. Inconsistencies as you describe are also related to soundboard design and health. Hammers and voicing also influence the outcome. And how well these factors marry to one another are part of the picture.

If you are buying a used piano, you would be advised to engage the services of a piano technician before you purchase.

Will Truitt

.
May be I do not understand the term correctly, but I would say a piano restorer, or rebuilder.

I am really not sure the "piano technician" can be seen as a generalist, capable of making a valuable assessment on a piano condition with enough finesse, then propose to sen it to the good rebuilding or restoring shop.

Certainly the piano technician(s) from those shops are more prone to do an expertise, assuming the rebuilders will not systematically advocate for a new soundboard and the restorer for a museum type work wink

I do not trust very high the tuners to know how to evaluate an old piano, from what I could see up to know.

Ears help of course, but if the tuner is not using them so much, he is not of great interest for that neither.

About actions, without being able to make complete repairs with a "factory quality", I do not see the tuners evaluating correctly the job.

Regards




Edited by Olek (07/23/14 07:08 AM)
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It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2305789 - 07/23/14 07:59 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: Olek]
gynnis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/14
Posts: 252
Loc: Florida, Connecticut
In a sense, every piano is really three pianos. The wound strings on the bass bridge make piano one, the tenor strings upto the capo bar make piano two, and the strings under the capo bar make piano three. They all sound different. The trick is to make them sound harmonious together and reasonably consistent. Every manufacturer has a certain "color" to the sound.

Modern pianos seem to strive for a consistent sound across the whole piano. Older pianos seemed to exploit the color difference in the three sections. My Chickering seems to exploit the color difference (double reed bass, string tenor,string-of-pearls treble). I seem to remember older Petrof's also have a more extreme coloration.

At some level, it is a matter of taste. What do you like?
_________________________
Seiler 206, Chickering 145, Estey 2 manual reed organ, Fudge clavichord, Zuckerman single harpsichord, Technics P-30, Roland RD-100.

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#2305807 - 07/23/14 08:53 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: gynnis]
BillJZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 20
Originally Posted By: gynnis
In a sense, every piano is really three pianos. The wound strings on the bass bridge make piano one, the tenor strings upto the capo bar make piano two, and the strings under the capo bar make piano three. They all sound different. The trick is to make them sound harmonious together and reasonably consistent. Every manufacturer has a certain "color" to the sound.

Modern pianos seem to strive for a consistent sound across the whole piano. Older pianos seemed to exploit the color difference in the three sections. My Chickering seems to exploit the color difference (double reed bass, string tenor,string-of-pearls treble). I seem to remember older Petrof's also have a more extreme coloration.

At some level, it is a matter of taste. What do you like?



You know, this is a very good point. I just prefer the colder more colored sound. I have been lead to believe that an inconsistent tone is an "imperfection", perhaps it is not.

As far as the cabinetry is concerned, I just want to say that I'm just looking for a piano that will match the other wood in my house.....so I'm looking for real walnut, not just a walnut stain over whatever wood was the cheapest and a solid frame and cabinet made of real wood.......what you might find on a older Yamaha M series, a Baldwin Hamilton, or a Sohmer or Everett Studio will do. I do not feel I have found this level of cabinetry yet in a sub-7K new piano. However, it doesn't need to be an artcase piano or even a Steinway Sheraton 4510.

From what I have seen, this is an area which has seen a dramatic "corner cutting" to reduce costover even the past 5-10 years in the "home piano" market. I had a dealer tell me I was unusual and that everyone wants black pianos these days. I agreed that poor quality wood looks better painted black and that if I was forced to choose from his new pianos, I would choose a black piano also. I think the new piano manufacturers are missing out on a lot of potential new customers who view a piano as nice piece of furniture taht can turn a house into a home.
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#2305810 - 07/23/14 08:58 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
BillJZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/14
Posts: 20
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Billjz,
Most low bass portions of vertical pianos can be greatly improved by using some of the hybrid wire types for core wire and by loading them to a high enough break point. The art is in choosing core type and sizes.

The highest notes can greatly benefit from reducing the mass of the hammers by some 20% or more without reducing the thickness of the felt where it strikes.

I have done some high performance vertical pianos over the years. It costs much more than you can sell the piano for-but there are many possibilities for improvement if one begins with a well made design.



This is exactly what I am trying to get done and if a piano needs to be restrung anyway, why not do it? It seems it would cost a bit more in materials and time for planning....does it involve a lot of trail and error testing?

What questions should I ask a restorer to find out if they have experience doing this?
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Looking for a piano

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#2305861 - 07/23/14 10:31 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2411
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Ask them if they have experience with Hybrid Wire Scales and LightHammer Tone Regulation.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2305877 - 07/23/14 10:57 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: BillJZ]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
You will likely find not much restorers having yet available the different types of wire, as they are more expensive to buy, one nee to be really sold on the result.
AT last I noticed that many confirmed restorers use the softer wire qualities in the start of the long bridge, and in all sections where the tension is low (unichords in basses of small pianos for instance)
However it is better to stay with the same wire (different types but same steel) on the whole scale.

I think there are very little technicians and also restorers that have a good understanding of the interrelations between soundboard and scale.

I think if the soundboard and plate is correctly assessed (amount of impedance, lengths progressions, strike line) the choice for the strings is not that difficult .
Even base on the original scale only some aspects can be made better, as the breaks where the plate cross the bridge, where often a stronger wire can be used on the treble sie and thinner or softer on the bass side of the strut.

One need to know the global tone will be more brilliant, silky, but less dynamic, so it goes hand by hand with softer/lighter cold pressed hammers, for a tone which will be less on the "modern hyper abrupt tone" an that can be appreciate in a home.

I would not be too surprise that this wire is well adapted to the 1930 scaling of American/Canadian pianos (for the ones I could play with their original strings)

I was explained the tone of old strings get impure and harder because of the carbon migration in time within the wire, so possibly the annealed part (external) get harder and raise the rigidity of the string, You can have nicely sounding old strings because of original quality, but the tone never will be thick and auto alimented well, it remain small and sow down fast.

Just have a few new strings mounted to check for a result before doing the job, it can be worth. the expense/trouble.

Based on a healthy sound structure (no particular ^problems with soundboard and bridges, I see the budget raised 20 25% not more, assuming the rebuilder have a little experience or is not on his own with the strings use.

The basis of that "mixed" wire method relates to yet old studies an things that all stringed instrument builders know about, which is a certain level of stress on the wire is necessary to ameliorate the steel elasticity (resiliency goes together with) .

Violing, guitars, take that in account whatever the material for the strings. Better forming of the waves, less parasitic unwanted noises or tones, that take energy from the musical tone.

The expense is that softer steel is absorbing a little more energy, that is then not reflected within the wire. Impacting more the fundamental an the highest level of power than the spectra, which is rich and clear.

Certainly very very different than the pianos you may see mounted with high carbon content wire as Mapes, that creates more inharmonicity very soon in the 5th-6th octave. While allowing for more power but more impurity (noise) .Little experience with that wire but that is what I noticed in treble.
The Roslau (German) wire we use today also miss a very good partials definition, but stay with a lower iH range in my impression.

BTW the plain wire cost is not anecdotal but not a large part of the furniture cost, the bass strings cost can be 15 times more than the plain wire.

Good luck


Edited by Olek (07/23/14 10:59 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2305883 - 07/23/14 11:03 AM Re: Adjusting Sound During Restringing [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Ask them if they have experience with Hybrid Wire Scales and LightHammer Tone Regulation.


(TM) ! sorry that was erased by mistake.


Edited by Olek (07/23/14 03:48 PM)

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